vSphere CPU ready time

Bored, nothing to do, and checking out your performance metrics?  First off, use VMware vRealize Operations (vROps, formerly vCOps), and take up a new hobby in all your spare time; thank me later.  Still need to take a look because you’re troubleshooting a slow VM?  Concerned about if you’re oversubscribing your CPUs?  High kernel times?

Why can't I hold all of these metrics

A basic explanation of CPU Ready Time is: how long is your virtual machine is waiting in line to use the CPU on the host?  There is a very acceptable percentage (in general, under 10%, more on that below), however oversubscribing will definitely cause you (or clients) headaches.  An example of when you have this problem is a generally slow VM, but task manager/TOP isn’t showing something eating up all your CPU, and all other metrics look fine.  Extreme cases will make the VM’s clock slow.  Perhaps high kernel time?  Josh at vmtoday has an image of this example on his very relevant post.

When you look at these graphs and see high numbers, don’t necessarily worry.  There’s a pretty easy formula to figure out what you’re looking at.  In the example I’m using below, I’m using the performance chart for the VM, realtime, which has a metric rollup time of 20 seconds.  Here’s how I got it to that, and what it looks like:


Performance Options
Performance Options
Realtime CPU Ready
Realtime CPU Ready

If you’re looking at graphs of different timeframes, you want to use a separate number in the formula:

  • Realtime: 20 seconds – We’re using this one in my example
  • Past Day: 5 minutes (300 seconds)
  • Past Week: 30 minutes (1800 seconds)
  • Past Month: 2 hours (7200 seconds)
  • Past Year: 1 day (86400 seconds)

(CPU summation value / (<Chart Interval in Seconds> * 1000)) * 100 = % CPU ready

It’s probably hard to see, but I’m interested in the VM average of 547 at a realtime (20 second) interval.  I toss those numbers into the formula:

(547 / (20 seconds * 1000)) * 100 = 2.73% CPU Ready

With only 2.73% CPU ready time, I can see this VM isn’t having any CPU problems.

Some different resources concur that up to 10% is acceptable, but something over 10% should require some reviewing.  Keep in mind the time-frame you’re looking at this:  realtime during high production times may not be the most accurate for an overview.  If that’s the case, check out a daily or weekly average instead.

Additional resources on this topic including all about using CPU affinity: